The Colorado Rockies
Have you ever found yourself in a place where everything starts to feel really big? The simplest tasks are suddenly overwhelming? The worlds grip becomes too tight and you're just trying to keep your head above water?
Matt and I found ourselves there a couple weeks ago and with our 6 year anniversary quickly approaching, we jumped on the opportunity to sneak away. My parents were gracious enough to come to Kansas and stay with Levi for the week. So we packed up the car and headed towards colourful Colorado.
There's something very therapeutic about the mountains. Maybe it's being unplugged from everything. Or maybe it's that crisp fresh mountain air. Maybe it's how you can get lost in the stars in the evening, how you feel as though you can reach up and touch them. Maybe it's the shear size of the mountains, the way they make you feel so small and how they quickly put things into perspective. How they help you figure out what's really important in life. How they slow you down and show you all the beauty you've been missing. How well they heal.
I know I'm not alone in this, I've talked to several people that find solitude and sanctuary in the mountains. We're drawn to the mountains. The fresh air, vibrant colors and magnitude of the mountains give us peace. They're soul renewing.
We're drawn to the mountains. The fresh air, vibrant colors and magnitude of the mountains give us peace. They're soul renewing.
We stayed in the tiny town of Fairplay at my in-laws cabin (again, can I say how gracious and selfless our parents are?!) and we did our best to discover everything around us. There are so many small and unique towns to explore. Plus Colorado is rich with history! Don't get me wrong, we did relax-- we tucked in and played card games, became temporary locals at the town's brewery and even had a shut in snow day complete with a fire. But we did explore, a lot.
But if you were to ask me what to do while you were in Colorado, these would be my top three.
1. Go Fly Fishing
My husband loves to fly fish and I love to tag along. Fly fishing is quite the sport, really more of an art in my opinion. Colorado fly fishing stores are super friendly and are more than willing to help direct you to the right streams and will make sure you have everything you need to be successful. Fly fishing often brings you to very secluded and peaceful locations so this was a win/win for both of us. He fly fished while I read my book (and occasionally pointed out fish to him).
We checked out two different streams. The first is called the "Dream Stream" and is quite popular among anglers. It's a prime fishing spot with apparently very large trout. It was a pretty busy spot, but still very beautiful.
The second body of water we found was a pond tucked in the mountains of Breckenridge. In the pond where Matt fished was a giant dredge that was used for mining gold in the valley floor during the gold rush in the early 1900's. Often the gold was 30 ft. below ground, hence the creation of the dredge to dig it all up. It made for a beautiful backdrop.
2. Hang with Nature at St. Elmo
My mother in law knows me all too well and so when she told me this was a stop we had to make time for. We did. Its a bit of a journey to get up to St. Elmo, but absolutely worth it.
A little about St. Elmo-- It was founded in 1880 for gold and silver mining. This attracted several families and workers, nearly 2,000 people eventually settled in St. Elmo. In its prime days St. Elmo had 5 hotels, saloons, dance halls, a general store, a school, a local newspaper and a telegraph office. St. Elmo was home to over 150 patented mine claims-- The Mary Murphy Mine was the most successful mine in the area, it is said that over $60,000,000 of gold was recovered from it! The mining industry started to decline in the early 1920's and by 1922 the railroad no longer served the area. The Mary Murphy Mine continued to be in operation until the railroad was abandoned. After the mining industry closed down, the population in St. Elmo began to steadily decrease until it was eventually a ghost town. Today it is one of the best preserved ghost towns in Colorado.
It is also over run by friendly chipmunks which is why my mother in law had recommended it. I could have stayed there all day. In one sitting I had chipmunks, birds and squirrels eating out of my hand. If you know me at all, you know I was one happy girl! I understand this isn't for everyone, but it was quite the experience.
ps- apparently they love dill pickle sunflower seeds :)
3. Take a drive along Boreas Pass
The Boreas Pass was originally used as a route for miners to use who were headed to the valley in search for gold during the Colorado gold rush. Eventually it was used for stagecoaches and later tracks were laid along the pass. Now it serves as off roading for visitors during the summer and cross country skiing during the winter. If you're not a fan of heights I would recommend you be the driver. There are some steep drop offs and the road becomes quite narrow at times, but the view is absolutely breath taking. Its hard to do it justice through photographs.
**Sorry for the poor picture quality, pretty views call for some iPhone selfies!
Moral of the story, if you're given the opportunity to escape and recharge it's well worth it. Make it a priority. In the end you'll be a better parent/spouse/sibling etc. for it.
And if you do get away, make sure you document your trip! Pictures are our legacy and easily the best memory preserver we have. One day, all those pictures will mean everything to you.